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Mod Pathol. 2001 Sep;14(9):880-5.

Microtubule-associated protein-2: a new sensitive and specific marker for pulmonary carcinoid tumor and small cell carcinoma.

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Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Allegheny General Hospital, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15212, USA.


Microtubule-associated proteins (MAPs) are a major component of cytoskeleton family proteins associated with microtubule assembly. MAP-2 has been shown to be specifically expressed in neuronally differentiated cells. Pulmonary neuroendocrine carcinomas such as carcinoid tumors and small cell carcinomas are derived from neuroendocrine cells. We hypothesize that neuroendocrine cells may also express MAP-2, and therefore, MAP-2 may be used as a marker for pulmonary carcinomas of neuroendocrine differentiation. To investigate the utility of using MAP-2 expression to separate pulmonary neuroendocrine from non-neuroendocrine tumors, we examined the expression of MAP-2 immunohistochemically in 100 cases of pulmonary carcinomas. The immunoperoxidase method with antigen retrieval was used to characterize the expression of MAP-2, chromogranin, synaptophysin, and neuron-specific enolase in 25 small cell carcinomas, 25 carcinoid tumors, 25 adenocarcinomas, and 25 squamous cell carcinomas. All tumors were lung primaries. All 25 cases of carcinoid tumors (100%) as well as 23 of 25 cases (92%) of small cell carcinomas were positive for MAP-2. Four of 25 cases (16%) of adenocarcinomas were positive for MAP-2 and synaptophysin. Among the 25 squamous carcinomas, 4 cases (16%) were positive for MAP-2, 2 cases (8%) were positive for synaptophysin, 11 cases (44%) were positive for neuron-specific enolase, and none was positive for chromogranin. In conclusion, MAP-2 is a new sensitive and specific marker for the pulmonary tumors of neuroendocrine differentiation. We recommend that MAP-2 be added to immunohistochemical panels to separate non-neuroendocrine from neuroendocrine lung tumors.

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